Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

I am still fuming over Secretary of the Treasury Geithner’s remarks on CBS Face The Nation last weekend. Of course, he stated again that the way to attack our debt problem is to tax the rich. That’s fine with me. We all know that in the end the rich will pay more either because of a rate increase or by closing tax loop holes.

The statement that I didn’t like was his response when reminded that taxing the rich would not begin to solve the debt problem. Then he said, and I quote: “Reforming farm subsidies – very important to do – and they can raise substantial amounts of money.” A statement like that is beneath the Office of Secretary of the Treasury. Reforming ag programs will not raise a meaningful amount of money. The ag industry already has accepted subsidy reductions. Direct payments will not survive.

Look at it this way. Our government spends a trillion dollars each year more than we take in. For every dollar we spend, we have to borrow 40 cents. A few billion dollars for agriculture is like pennies compared to a trillion dollars. Can’t the Secretary of the Treasury think of a bigger pot of money to help pay our bills? I guess that was just his number one “talking point.”

I support cutting ag subsidies. We’re willing to do our share. But, the Secretary refused to deal with the entitlements. That’s were the big money is. He just wanted to pick on agriculture. He’s not alone. The big city newspapers do the same.

Let’s get serious.

I would call to your attention a column written by Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post. The headline reads: “It’s the Welfare State, Stupid.” He is right. We cannot afford to keep shoveling money out the door that we don’t have.

Of course, we need to help alleviate poverty. But we have to ask the question – who deserves support? How much? How long?
Tightening the screws on the welfare state will not be easy, simply because politicians hate to take anything away from the voters. They might not get re-elected.

They refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of our problem, and they don’t dare give an honest answer on how to fix it. But, in the end, they will have to face up. Because we are broke.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.